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how BMW engineering craps on us thumbs down

Posted by jaffar 
October 19, 2010 03:08PM
hi all

i love my e36. i loved my e30 the most. i also loved my old e21. i loved all my cars, and put lots of money in them, in order to keep them in perfect mechanical shape. i love BMWs generally - for their driving pleasure and their build quality. wait, what ?! no, i HATE BMW for how they are crapping on us with every part in our cars ! it's a simple story, but i've had it - everything in my car is a complete and utter engineering failure ! from the interior panels that are always rattling, to every single gasket in the engine bay/gearbox that always pisses just enough oil through so that the engine bay is a mess. yes, i love my car, i love driving it and it gives me great pleasure - but it's a complete SHIT of a car. here's the most recent discovery i made - BMW made our cars so that they break on purpose after a limited number of uses ! wait, what ? this guy must be insane smiling smiley well read on and take a look at the pictures if you don't believe me.

today my rear left door refused to close. just like that, i opened it, threw my umbrella in (very hard rain), tried to close the door... nothing, just like the handle remained stuck. checkd both inner and outer handles - both are fine, tried to close the door again several times... nothing. the notch is not engaging. ok, so it has rained in my car the entire day, everybody honk their horns at me, the door opens widely whenever i take a right turn... it's a mess, but i need to drive. lucky that the traffic is so insane, i make 2 km in 1 hour. between the redlights i had time to built a rig from the elastic bands that hold my luggage in the trunk, so i tied the inner handle of both rear doors together. well the rain is still coming inside, my alarm still beeps like crazy because one door is detected open, but at least i can drive and solve all other problems.

again lucky me, my company allows me to leave the car in the underground parking for a few days until i figure out what's wrong. do you think there's a mechanic around here that is able to remove the DOOR LOCK from a bmw ? think again... i remember i had to replace the one on my driver's door and i was like a blind gynecologist in there...

so tonight i finish my work and start taking the car apart. of course, the freaking door trim pins break, i think again "why in the world don't they use SCREWS and cover them with a nice trim"... only to find out that the rear door lock cannot come out unless you remove... the window. why in the world would i have to remove my window in order to work on the lock ?!!?!! ok... i remove the window, the window rail, i manage to remove the lock. i've seen several broken door locks in my appartment, all of them have some nice screws so you can open them and fix them eventually, when a spring breaks or they simply need some grease. but would BMW do this ? why ?!?!?! the lock is closed in place by FOUR very thick RIVETS. and of course, above those, there is another part of the lock mechanism, also fastened in place with additional thick rivets. well i still trust my dear BMW enginners and think "ok, something must have moved inside - crazy but possible, i will cut the rivets, fix the lock, put it back together and replace the rivets or weld the cover". why would i do that and not buy another lock ? well that's another story but... i like to fix stuff. plus, a new lock is over 200 EUR. and for a used one, you have to buy a DOOR around here, because nobody sells the lock. probably because they have no clue about how to remove it, too smiling smiley so i don't want to buy a door - what do i do with a door after i take the lock ? put it on my wall as a trophy ? smiling smiley

ok... rivets cut, the part of the mechanism that is blocking the main metal cover is removed, more rivets are cut... cover removed. now i start to become depressed - welding is out of question, because there's a lot of plastic around the rivets, it would surely melt. replacing the rivets is also out of question since they have the weirdest shapes. ok... i understand that my lock will go to the garbage and i have to find a replacement, but my curiosity is bigger than that - i need to take everything apart to see what has actually broken. after one more hour of cutting and cursing - because every lever inside is also riveted... except for the ones with the strongest springs, that can blow in your face, of course smiling smiley - i finally find the problem. well gentlemen, here it is - everything inside that lock is made of metal, is very strong and well installed, except one very important part - the thingie that KEEPS THE FREAKING DOOR CLOSED !!!!!!!!!!!!!! this shit, because i cannot call it a PART, is made of the same thick metal, only the very small part at one end, the part that is pressed by a very strong spring, is made of a piece of plastic that's basically glued to the metal (ok, i know it's melted in place, same thing). when the door is closed, this shity piece of plastic, together with the strong spring that presses it, rest on a metal piece, so no problem. but whenever you OPEN the door, this piece moves and the spring is way too tensioned and presses on it. one can easily imagine what happens after many door opens, especially during cold season. i actually wonder how it lasted so many years (17 now) - it's probably because most owners of my car never used the rear doors much ?

some pictures. the ruler shows millimeters, so you can make an idea about how strong the spring actually is. i compressed it with my hand to show you the normal resting position. click on the pictures for higher resolution.

can anyone tell me this is just an engineering mistake, and not something made on purpose ? why in the world would they not make that part metal and cast on in one single, strong piece ?! i mean, i could just remove the plastic crap alltogether, make a small hole and put in a simple screw, and it will last longer than that plastic crap... i'm wondering what will break on my car tomorrow... sad smiley

i know that, most probably, BMW didn't even build that crappy lock, but still, they put it in my car... it passed quality check...




--
A physics truck just turned over outside. There's physics everywhere!



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/19/2010 03:09PM by jaffar.
October 19, 2010 03:14PM
also, in case you did not know, it seems that if you put a 1.6 engine in a e36, you also need to put DIFFERENT DOOR LOCKS. yes, i checked the numbers, the locks are different for 316i, only 1.8+ have the same locks. but it's the same freaking metal can !!!

--
A physics truck just turned over outside. There's physics everywhere!



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/19/2010 03:14PM by jaffar.
rkj
October 19, 2010 11:11PM
Quote
jaffar
also, in case you did not know, it seems that if you put a 1.6 engine in a e36, you also need to put DIFFERENT DOOR LOCKS. yes, i checked the numbers, the locks are different for 316i, only 1.8+ have the same locks. but it's the same freaking metal can !!!

Oh Buddy, I feel you on this one and even though it's a Bmw it doesn't surprise me at all having a plastic thing grafted on to a piece metal of the door mechanism.

I was in my wifes E30 trying to fix the glove box latch, another Bmw treat, at least it's all metal (what little of it is there) eye rolling smiley
October 20, 2010 02:58AM
you know, there's an actual job to design parts that break after a certain time / number of uses without the owner being able to prove that... i guess the person who designed this lock got a BIG bonus

--
A physics truck just turned over outside. There's physics everywhere!
October 20, 2010 10:13AM
My personal favorite on the E30 has always been the contorting knuckle busting design of the wiper motor and what it takes to get it out. Who was the sadist that came up with that one? I have always wondered how they did that on the production line as the cars came down the slot?

alan
October 20, 2010 01:43PM
I found your post very amusing to read. Your frustration is just the same as the mechanics at my employer.

The thing is, it is not only engineering. It is marketing and finance. Things have to be cost effective and easy to mount on the assembly line (eg the clips instead of screws you're talking about). To keep costs within limits, at the assembly line, the guys get just a short amount of time to mount a certain part (or a series of parts), for example door trim = 20 seconds. Why not make the lock better? Why should they? They want to sell new cars as well, instead of unbreakable or infinite repairable stuff. Premium cars from late 70's early 80's (as the E30, Mercedes W123, W124, W201) were over-engineered, they lasted too long (from an economic point of view). Ecologically, those cars were more 'economical', even with worse exhaust emissions.

A manufacturer wants a car to last 240.000 km or 10 years, after that, it's dead for them, they don't care any more. It's not longer worth to keep it on the road, their reputation is made by newer cars. They don't want to keep storing spare parts, that costs to much. They'd rather sell a new one.

But I understand your frustration, personally I like repairable stuff as well. Last night my mum called me to ask if it was normal for her tv to break down after 7 years. The one she had before was 25 years before it was replaced, and then my brother used it for a couple of years. The stuff our parents and grandparents bought were for life, the stuff we buy nowadays are consumption goods, it needs to be thrown away after a certain amount of time.
October 20, 2010 04:14PM
I still want to know how they get the windshield wiper motor in in under 20 seconds. It is obvious that the car has already been painted before the part goes in and the only way in or out is thru the cutout. Maybe they have fairies in the factory that fly in and magically snug the 3 mounting bolts down?

alan
rkj
October 20, 2010 04:25PM
Quote
alanrw
My personal favorite on the E30 has always been the contorting knuckle busting design of the wiper motor and what it takes to get it out. Who was the sadist that came up with that one? I have always wondered how they did that on the production line as the cars came down the slot?

alan

I wrote a how-to on the wiper motor, after I did three of them I had it down. There are a few tricks! I'm pretty sure Daniel put in here on this site.

Rick
rkj
October 20, 2010 04:31PM
Quote
rkj
Quote
alanrw
My personal favorite on the E30 has always been the contorting knuckle busting design of the wiper motor and what it takes to get it out. Who was the sadist that came up with that one? I have always wondered how they did that on the production line as the cars came down the slot?

alan

I wrote a how-to on the wiper motor, after I did three of them I had it down. There are a few tricks! I'm pretty sure Daniel put in here on this site.

Rick

Here it is for anybody

Wiper Motor replacement

This is a step by step procedure for replacing the wiper motor for an E30 Bmw 1984-1991

Remove the left (drivers) side wiper arm and blade assy.

Remove left grill assy. under the wiper arm, this is done by gently inserting a thin putty knife under the top edge of the grill in several places to release the hold down tabs

Pull the rubber weather strip (hood seal) up that goes around the fender and cowl area. Remove the large plate on the firewall to reveal the wiper motor access area, there’s a wiring loom on the right side and a round electrical connection (multi pin) on the left that will have to come away before the firewall plate can be removed, the plate is held on with four 7mm sheet metal screws

4. First to come off is the wiring plug from the wiring harness (that’s the lower part of the square connector that goes through the wiper frame assy.(this pulls down with a wiggling back and forth), once the lower plug is pulled out the top square plug from the motor can be wiggled out, pry one edge up and work from there

Sidebar…from here on you will have to work generally up-side down and totally blind so if you’re not in a calm state of mind you might want to save this up-coming part of the job for a better time. The trick to this job is getting the wiper motor out without its plastic cover and getting the new one back in with its cover which is impossible unless you know the trick, and yes, I will give you the trick later on in this monologue…..

Take the center motor (armature) link arm nut off (10mm), making note on its position (the arm) in relation to the frame/motor assy., I take this arm off and try not to disturb its position and lay the linkage arm assy. down in the well, out of the way. If you do have to move it or loose its position, no big deal, we will discuss this later on.. TIP; if you take a flat punch and tap the linkage arms side it will fall right off without fuss, just a few small taps with a small hammer and punch will do it (the splined shaft is tapered)

Remove the three 10 mm bolts that hold the motor on to the frame, I start with the hardest to get at first and finish up with the easiest (it just works out easier), now the motor is loose in its mounting and this is where the “Trick” comes in, so listen carefully. The goal is to take the plastic cover off the motor while its sitting inside the well, this is done by tilting the assy. (motor and cover together) and sneaking it back further into the well area, if your in the right position the motors (armature) splined shaft will be pointing to the rear of the wells bulkhead (to the rear of the car) and at this point keeping the cover against the forward bulkhead of the well you can move the motors body away and separate the two, leaving the cover right there out of the way (very important), you can now slide the motor (on its own) past the frame and out of the bulkhead cover hole into the engine bay and out

The new motor (I strongly advise a new one cause you don’t want to do this repair twice) can be moved into place and when its in position the cover can be put on to the motor (just reverse the removal procedure), when the cover is on the motor jockey them both back into place on the frame, it’s a tight fit but it will go (it came out, right?). The first hold-down bolt should be the easiest to get to and this just takes some eyeballing to get it started and once you have the first started the other two are easy, snug all three down tight

At this point I plug the electrical connection together outside of the frame hole (where it will eventually go) and activate the motor from the switch so the motor parks in its right place (I do this a few times just to make sure), disconnect the electrical plug and lay the wiring aside out of the way, now comes the time for the linkage arm to-be connected to the motors shaft, if you have not moved the linkage you should be able to mount it up. If the motor is parked and the wiper arm/blade (the passenger side) is in its right place all should be well (I say, should be), my way is to tighten the linkage arm up snug but I will not bring it totally home, then I’ll try turning the wipers on (from the switch) and see if it works right, when the wipers are shut off, the blade should park in the down position and not be on the up stroke. Another words they should not jump at the bottom end of their cycle (when they are shut off) but should stop in their lower position calmly and with-out fuss.

A quick note here, I take a small tie-wrap and go around the center of the two electrical block connections when they are put back into the frame hole just to keep them together, the little detents tend to wear and make for a loose fit causing the blocks to separate (cheap insurance)

Replace the grill and the wiper arm/blade assy. and make sure the blades have clearance of movement, I like to set the blades up, off the bottom of the windshield a tiny bit (I think it looks cool) when their parked. Clean the gutter (fenders and cowl) and replace the firewall cover and the weatherstrip, TIP; the lower cover screws can be taped into a socket for easy starting, replace the wiring loom channel and round connector and BON, your done

No need of taking the wiper transmission out or even loosening its mountings when you know the trick…….Cheers,
October 20, 2010 04:37PM
Great write up Rick. But how do they do all that in 20 seconds on the factory assembly floor? smiling smiley

alan
rkj
October 20, 2010 05:56PM
Quote
alanrw
Great write up Rick. But how do they do all that in 20 seconds on the factory assembly floor? smiling smiley

alan

Thank you....Robots?
October 21, 2010 06:28AM
Quote
Michiel 318iS
I found your post very amusing to read. Your frustration is just the same as the mechanics at my employer.

The thing is, it is not only engineering. It is marketing and finance. Things have to be cost effective and easy to mount on the assembly line (eg the clips instead of screws you're talking about). To keep costs within limits, at the assembly line, the guys get just a short amount of time to mount a certain part (or a series of parts), for example door trim = 20 seconds. Why not make the lock better? Why should they? They want to sell new cars as well, instead of unbreakable or infinite repairable stuff. Premium cars from late 70's early 80's (as the E30, Mercedes W123, W124, W201) were over-engineered, they lasted too long (from an economic point of view). Ecologically, those cars were more 'economical', even with worse exhaust emissions.

A manufacturer wants a car to last 240.000 km or 10 years, after that, it's dead for them, they don't care any more. It's not longer worth to keep it on the road, their reputation is made by newer cars. They don't want to keep storing spare parts, that costs to much. They'd rather sell a new one.

But I understand your frustration, personally I like repairable stuff as well. Last night my mum called me to ask if it was normal for her tv to break down after 7 years. The one she had before was 25 years before it was replaced, and then my brother used it for a couple of years. The stuff our parents and grandparents bought were for life, the stuff we buy nowadays are consumption goods, it needs to be thrown away after a certain amount of time.

Glad I amused you - I was also laughing between curses smiling smiley
I understand all the marketing and finance - but come one, a door lock that breaks on purpose ? That's simply dirty...
I bought a used lock from a 1992 car (1 yr older than mine), the plastic thingy looks good. Let's see how long this one lasts smiling smiley

--
A physics truck just turned over outside. There's physics everywhere!
October 21, 2010 01:06PM
It doesn't break on purpose. Maybe your cold winters have sped up the process.

Why plastic? For sound reasons (metal on metal or spring sounds)? For not having water freeze to it as quickly as with metal? Maybe the plastic is more wear resistant than metal? Could be anything.

One thing I'm sure of: it's not been engineered to intentionally break after x times being applied. Plastic gets more brittle over time and your car is past its due date. Manufacturers don't build cars to become old-timers.
October 22, 2010 07:16AM
yes, i am sure it's made to break on purpose. all other parts in the lock (that don't take as much stress as this one) are made of thick metal. they are also pressed by metal springs. they also stay in cold and may get wet and freeze. try to break open a lock and you will understand my point - it's an obvious purposely built point of failure. again, don't get me wrong, i understand WHY they do such a dirty thing, i just don't AGREE to doing it. plus, they could do something more subtle or more interesting for the car owner, like when the thing breaks, you have the opportunity to improve your car by repairing it, you don't end up with a disabled car.

i never noticed in my manual such a thing as a "due date" for my car.

--
A physics truck just turned over outside. There's physics everywhere!



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/22/2010 07:17AM by jaffar.
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